One of the saddest and most difficult things for people in our Western culture seems to be their inability to actually make friends with themselves, to accept themselves as they are. We can be kind, forgiving and accepting of other people, but when we look into our own minds and how we relate to ourselves, we see that often we can be very unkind, very demanding and harsh in our judgements. So my encouragement is to get to know yourselves over these next days in a more kindly way. Notice the things about yourself that you don’t like or don’t approve of, and just see if you can forgive yourself for them and accept things as they are. In that way a real transformation can happen. Also, I’ve found that the more I make friends with myself, the more I am able to make friends with other people.
If we keep repressing the things we don’t like, our unpleasant thoughts and moods, that’s not really accepting ourselves and we’ll probably end up getting sick. It seems that many of the sicknesses of modern times are a result of not taking proper care of our emotional life.
So we can see this time of retreat as an opportunity to do some important preventative work. If we establish an inner atmosphere of trust and kindness, our negative habits of thinking can reveal themselves. Then, having seen and acknowledged these habits, we can let them go, so that our lives need no longer be limited by their harmful effects.
This reflection by Ajahn Candasiri is from the book, Simple Kindness, p. 18.